Challis, Idaho • A group has formed to oppose efforts by those who want President Barack Obama to designate a national monument in central Idaho.
The Custer County-based group says there’s no justification to create a national monument in the Boulder-White Clouds because there are no current threats to the area.
"We are encouraging people in our area to write letters," Jenny Seefried of Mackay tells The Times-News (http://bit.ly/1o2cPaV ) in a story on Tuesday. "It is kind of old-school, but I don’t know what else to do."
The Idaho Conservation League, Wilderness Society and others want the Obama administration to create a 591,905-acre national monument in the Boulder-White Clouds using the Antiquities Act. Much of the land in the proposed national monument is beautiful, remote and rugged.
An effort to create three wilderness areas in the region while also releasing other lands from wilderness study areas so far have failed, prompting conservation groups to lobby for a national monument.
The new opposition group, called Your Boulder-White Clouds, has about six members so far, Seefried said, and is trying to catch up by lobbying Idaho’s Congressional delegation and raise money to send a member to Washington, D.C.
"We just want to give the community a voice and if the opposition’s voice is louder, I guess they win," she said. "But we feel very powerless that the president can sign something in without any kind of input at all from the people who are going to be impacted the most."
Seefried said the group doesn’t believe a national monument in the area would improve Custer County’s economy. Foes of creating a national monument generally cite diminished economic possibilities and restrictions on access.
Dani Mazzotta, of the Idaho Conservation League, said the new group has valid questions and concerns. She said the league will continue to meet with anyone to hear comments about the proposed national monument.
"But groups do have to be open for discussion and sometimes when groups or individuals take a strong opposition stance, they are no longer willing to listen to, or have dialogue about potential merits," she said. "There is a challenge to that."
Conservation groups in April added 21,000 acres to the proposed national monument to include petrified sequoia trees.
The land for the national monument is currently managed by the U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Bureau of Land Management and Sawtooth National Recreation Area.
Information from: The Times-News, http://www.magicvalley.com
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